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Albany and Bethlehem Fire Departments Fight Fire in North Bethlehem

This article is a direct street report from our correspondent and has not been edited by the 1st Responder newsroom.

NORTH BETHLEHEM, NY - City of Albany and Town of Bethlehem fire departments worked to extinguish a fire at a home in North Bethlehem on Wednesday afternoon, February 1st.

Calls to 911 were received for a report of a confirmed structure fire in North Bethlehem at 1:00 P.M., with reports of possible entrapment. Chief Craig Sleurs of the Slingerlands Fire Department was en route to the call and saw a column of black smoke and declared a Signal 30, indicating a working structure fire.

Fire departments from the Town of Bethlehem were dispatched and arrived to the scene with the City of Albany Fire Department already on the scene pulling hose off their trucks and starting to make work of the fire.

Chief Sleurs walked up to the scene and saw a male down on the ground, who ended up being an Albany Firefighter/Engine Operator who injured his knee. There were also crews already inside beginning a search of the residence to attempt to locate any individuals that may have been inside. No victims were located, so crews evacuated the structure and began an exterior attack on the fire.

“The main issue we had was getting water to the scene because Albany’s water system is not comparable to the Town of Bethlehem,” Sleurs said. “They had 30 PSI coming out of their hydrant and we had 100 PSI.”

Mutual aid departments were dispatched for tankers to get water to the scene while supply hose was set up from the scene all the way down Old Krumkill Road and down Krumkill Road to Andover Road to connect to a hydrant, resulting in approximately 800-1000 ft. of supply hose.

Once the water supply was set up, crews were able to supply water to additional hoselines, as well as a ladder truck from Albany Fire.

“You really need to keep water on the fire and we kept shutting down and not knocking the fire down,” Sleurs said. “Once we got the water supply set up we were able to knock the fire down.”

Albany Fire arrived at the scene first due to confusion with the exact location of the call. The fire was located at 15 Hidden Hollow Rd., which is connected to Old Krumkill Road off of Krumkill Road at the border of the Town of Bethlehem and the City of Albany. Hidden Hollow Road is considered the Slingerlands Fire District, however, Sleurs says one of the 911 calls came from the Ohav Sholom Apartments, which is the City of Albany jurisdiction. The Town of Bethlehem dispatch center received a call from an off-duty Building Inspector/Fire Protection Specialist from the Town of Colonie, Sleurs said.

Once the fire was knocked down, Town of Bethlehem departments helped Albany Fire pack their hose onto their trucks to get them back in service due to the amount of apparatus they had committed at the scene. Albany Fire was released and Bethlehem crews moved their trucks to the scene and continued wetting the house as an excavator was brought in to help open it up so they could hit hotspots.

There were two adults and two children that lived in the home, but were not there at the time of the fire, Sleurs said. Sleurs said he talked to the homeowner who stated there were three dogs and four cats that were inside the home, all of which succumbed to their injuries sustained in the fire.

Bethlehem Police made a report of six dogs, four cats and two ferrets, however, it is unclear the exact number of animals as Sleurs was given different numbers directly from the homeowner.

The fire was knocked down in approximately three hours. An Albany Firefighter was transported to the hospital with a knee injury, however, there were no other injuries reported. Sleurs says the fire is being ruled as accidental, however, the cause is still under investigation by the Bethlehem Police Department Fire Investigation Team.

“We worked very well with the Albany Fire Department; they were great to work with,” Sleurs added. “Paid and volunteer worked together and then we cleaned up together, so I think it worked great.”

This incident was different in the sense that it brought paid firefighters working side-by-side with volunteer firefighters in the Town of Bethlehem.

On the scene and on standby included City of Albany, Slingerlands, Elsmere, Delmar, McKownville, North Bethlehem, New Salem, Westmere and Onesquethaw fire departments, along with Delmar-Bethlehem EMS, Albany County Paramedics, Mohawk Ambulance, Albany Police and Bethlehem Police.

All the fire agencies on the scene brought in over 80 total firefighters during the incident.

“Couldn’t have asked for a better outcome to a very hectic situation,” Sleurs said.

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THOMAS MARRA Correspondent

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